If anything the voter turnout in the initial phases of the election tells us, it is that the general election 2014 is no normal election. This election is as much about finding practical solutions to our problems as it is about opposing the status quo. The general public’s political awareness has increased in last 2 years. The public wants to engage in different issues rather than preferring to be helpless bystander. The youth of India (many first time voters among them) has also started taking a lot of interest in the day to day politics. There is an underlying hope among the electorate that the 2014 election results will change the economic and political scene in the country forever. There is a ‘current’ that is working in the country which has made the public to resist nonperformance of the political class.
How big is this current? Can it be called a wave? Is it similar to the political wave India experienced in the elections of 1977, 1980, 1984 and 1989? What is the nature of this wave? Is it anti-Congress or Pro-Modi wave?
On December 8th, when the results of 4 assembly elections were declared, I was of the view that if India is experiencing any wave like phenomenon then it is anti-congress in nature and Modi is the face of this wave. The voting pattern in the 4 states (Rajasthan, MP, Chattishgarh & Delhi) indicated that people voted more against Congress than for BJP (which is the principal alternative of Congress in India).
Is it the same for parliamentary elections as well? Or has the anti-congress wave converted into a pro-Modi wave with time? Obviously, the final result on the May 16th can answer these questions.
In case, the following results are obtained on the 16th of May, the wave can be called an anti-congress wave.
1. Congress ends up with historically low number of seats (<=114) in the 16th lok sabha.
In 1999, Congress was reduced to its lowest ever figure in Lok Sabha (114) thanks to the rising BJP and regional parties. If Congress’ seats in the 16th Lok Sabha is around that figure or even lower, the mood all over the country can be declared as anti-congress. If we assume the Opinion poll results to be true, then this scenario is very much likely on the May 16th. In fact many polls are predicting less than 100 seats for Congress this time which will be a serious blow to the grand old party of India.
2. Congress fails to achieve the first position (in terms of no. of seats) in almost all states.
As per all opinion polls, except Karnataka (close fight, but Congress ahead), Kerala and Assam, Congress is nowhere in fight in any of the states. Congress may not even win seats in double digit in many states.
3. Most big leaders of UPA (including Sonia and Rahul Gandhi) will lose their seats.
In 1977, the Janata wave had swept the North India and as a result of which Indira and Sanjay Gandhi had lost their ‘safe’ seats of Amethi and Rae Bareily. It was a sign that Congress was thoroughly defeated. Will 2014 see a repeat? The reluctance shown by senior congress leaders to fight this time seem to be an indication what the results might be.
*If Sonia and Rahul manage to win their seats (even with less margin), the 2014 wave can be easily considered as smaller than the 1977 wave.
4. Congress becomes a minor player in the South India.
Even when the anti-congress wave had swept the whole of North India, South India remained sympathetic towards the Congress in 1977. In fact, after losing the Rae Bareily seat, Indira Gandhi seeked re-election in 1978 from Chikmagalur in Karnataka. The electoral wave post emergency, therefore, was not pan India and limited only to North India. The support for Congress in the southern part of the Indian peninsula can be gauged from the very fact that Sonia Gandhi fought from Bellary, Karnataka along with the Rae Bareily when her acceptance was in doubt. It is not surprising therefore that the state of Andhra Pradesh has been providing the largest no. of MPs to Congress in last 2 general elections.
If the recent opinion polls are anything to go by, Congress’s survival in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu is under serious risk. In Karnataka, it is in neck to neck fight with a resurgent BJP after Yeddyurappa’s return.
Now for this anti-congress wave to convert into a pro-Modi wave, following events need to occur.
1. BJP will win a record number of seats in the Lok Sabha (185+ at least)
BJP’s highest ever tally in the LS is 183 which it won in the 1999 general election. If there is a definite support in the public for Modi, it must cross the 183 mark set by Vajpeyee. If there is indeed a wave, it should breach the 200 mark as well which will be an unprecedented achievement for a party which has a limited geographical spread.
2. All big leaders of the NDA should win their seats handsomely
3. Modi will secure thumping victories from both his seats
4. Not just the Congress, even the regional parties/AAP fail to stop the BJP
If regional parties and AAP who are opposed to the BJP & Congress win a fair number of seats (which will automatically lead to a <185 seats scenario for the BJP), then it will puncture the claims of a pan India Modi wave. If people prefer a third party in seats where Congress (or its ally) is not the prime opponent of the BJP, then BJP can’t claim to be the public’s natural choice for the Congress’ alternative.
However, the non-congress, non-BJP parties are not doing well if the opinion polls are to be believed. As per such poll results and ground reports, JDU in Bihar and SP, BSP in UP (which are the major regional players) will finish below BJP in the respective states. In Odisha, reports claim that BJP has made some serious dents to the BJD vote bank in parliamentary polls without having solid party structure in the state. Sensing the mood, even non-NDA regional parties (like MNS, INLD etc.) are using Narendra Modi’s name for their poll campaign.
5. In South India, BJP gets more seats than the Congress
All requirements for a true Modi wave will be complete if BJP, for the first time in its history, wins more seats than the Congress in the south India. It looks like a possibility as BJP has gained ground in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh (after alliance with TDP). Its alliance in the Tamil Nadu with MDMK, DMDK and PMK can also win a few seats and heavily damage the AIADMK base.